7 Key Tactics to Reach the Peak of Your Career Ladder
Climbing your career ladder is a pinnacle life goal for many people. Maybe you are one of these people: You desire to make a good living, to gain the respect of those around you, and to obtain a comfortable lifestyle.
I've had a lot of people discuss with me the concept of reaching the top, and I've also done my own research on it. So how do you reach the top of your career ladder? Here are 7 key tactics that have popped up in my research. Now, understand this isn't conclusive, but it's a good start.
1. Spend time thinking about your career.
In the words of one of my favorite songs, “Sip some tea” and actually take some time to think about your career. Ask yourself about your current career options, the skills you offer, and the experience you hold. After this, consider what career paths you could take based on that. For example, if you are currently a software developer, you know digital marketing, and you have management experience, you could be a startup marketing manager, software manager, or you could be a good fit for other positions.
After you’ve thought about your career paths, look at your network. Ask yourself, "Who do I know who has a position like what I'm looking into?" or "Who do I know who manages positions like this?" Think about who you know, scroll through your contacts on your phone, and utilize your LinkedIn.
One of the biggest things you should consider is the future of your industry. Since the Internet is constantly growing and causing more and more jobs to become automated, you need to keep in mind what service you can offer which would be difficult to effectively automate. Begin thinking about where you want to be 10 years from now and what skills you can add to your toolbox to achieve that.
2. Speak up, but not too much.
How many times have you been in a meeting and there's that one guy who never says a word? And this doesn't happen during just one meeting. He's in a lot of your meetings and he Never. Says. Anything.
Don't be that person. Frequently, the people who ascend their career ladders are usually the people who show they care and give input when it matters. Too frequently, people worry about giving input that won’t be appreciated, so they shy away from giving their thoughts, even if what they say could be valued. However, if you want to climb closer to the top, you have to give input. Take the risk of giving too much input and speak up. The more you do this, the more you will learn about when to give input and when to stay quiet.
3. Find a mentor.
I know, I know, this is cliche, thanks to the internet (and thanks to Tai Lopez). But, I can personally attest to the importance of mentorship.
When I was younger, I wanted to be an entrepreneur, but I didn't have any direction other than what I read online. I was never really able to get my company up and running until I moved to Indianapolis and met a guy named Matt MacBeth. Matt owns a startup called Edwin the Duck and helped me in my entrepreneurial ventures. He still guides me, believes in my work while also providing quality feedback, and connects me with incredible people.
Honestly, I couldn't be where I am today without him. Your work and career as a whole could be greatly improved if you find a quality mentor. A quality mentor has to have a a few characteristics:
- They have to guide you
- They have to believe in you
- They have to give constructive feedback
- And lastly, they connect you with people
One important note: NEVER pay for a mentor. I've never heard of anybody having a truly quality paid-for mentor. A mentor should be personally invested in your life. Don't settle for those internet mentors- many of them are scams. Mentors should be personally invested in you and paid-for mentors are more than likely not invested.
4. Don’t compromise (on crucial job criteria).
I've taken this tactic from Patrick De Maeseneire, CEO of Adecco, a Fortune 500 company. De Maeseneire says there are 5 points you should never compromise on for your crucial job criteria: the position, the industry, the company, the salary, and the boss. “You should never, ever compromise on any of these!”
If items other than this remain important to you, make a list of them. Write down exactly why they matter so much to you, then score each item. For example, if you want sleep pods and a private desk at your job, your private desk is probably more important than your sleep pod. So, your private desk gets a higher priority score. Prioritize the list, and while you’re preparing to reach the top of your career ladder, don't compromise on what's most important to you.
5. Distract your coworkers.
Just kidding. Don't do that. No, seriously DO. NOT. DO. THAT.
Many of my former coworkers and peers will laugh at this tip because they know how distracting I can be. And trust me, I used to be one of the most distracting people alive: I could take anything and distract you from it. It's one of my skills... thanks, concussion-induced ADD.
If you tend to distract those around you (or even if you don’t; maybe you have a distracting co-worker instead), figure out when and where you focus on tasks best. For me, that's at a desk between 10 in the morning and 2 in the afternoon, then any time between 8:00 at night and 1:30 in the morning. If I'm not by myself in a quiet room at a desk, then I will be unfocused on my work, and as a result, distract others.
The second thing to do is when people ask you to stop, stop distracting them. Force yourself to go somewhere else and do something productive, or find others to socialize with. If someone directly asks you to quiet down or even sends you signals that they are trying to be super productive, leave them alone.
If you’re distracting to your co-workers, ask for a private cubicle or desk. That may sound “controversial” in the startup arena since open offices are supposed to be the ultimatum of startups, but you should do whatever it takes to not make your co-workers sidetracked from important work. For example, I need a private-ish area to work in, because I will be less productive if I do not have that kind of space. That is actually one job criterion I will not compromise on.
6. Dress for the job you want.
Sure, it's cliche, but it holds some truth. While dressing for the job doesn't actually make you get to the top, it cultivates an attitude that will help you go far. If you constantly have the attitude you need for the job you want, you rise in your career.
7. Deliver results
This is the major key. All the above sets you up for incredible connections and a lot of respect. However, in the end, it's all about results. People of all kinds become incredibly well-respected and are steadily employed: Young and old, well-connected and not well-connected, mentored and un-mentored, soft-spoken and over-spoken; all of whom can perform quite well.
So how do you become one of those people who deliver results? The first step is to work hard. I feel like a lot of people say, "Don't work hard- work smart." But I would strongly disagree. Working hard isn't something you can just do- you practice it. You practice working hard for long periods of time and being productive during those times. You practice focusing. After a while, you notice places where you can be more efficient, and you adjust what you're doing. This is working smart. Suddenly, you're working smart for extended periods of time while also doing the job with excellence. So practice working hard. Only then can you actually work smart.
After you start working hard, you will gain a lot of "work data." You can then analyze this data on your performance, and adjusting accordingly. For example, if you realize you're wasting time on social media after a few months, you can adjust what you're doing and get rid of social media for a while to refocus on other aspects of your job.
Finally, to deliver amazing results, after you've learned how to work hard and optimize your work, prioritize what you're doing. Not every task has the same level of importance. Without prioritization, you could end up investing in things that are unimportant. This could drive low results for your company, halting your climb to the top of your career ladder.
Those are my 7 tips for reaching the top of your career ladder. Spend time thinking about your career, speak up, find a mentor, don't compromise, don't distract your coworkers, dress for the job you want, and deliver results. Doing those 7 things will help you reach the top.
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